Hundreds gather to remember Susan Giovanniello


The haunting and mournful sound of bagpipes could be heard outside St. Rocco Roman Catholic Church, in Glen Cove, on April 6, drawing attention to an unsettling reality — the death of teenager Susan Giovanniello, a volunteer emergency medical technician.

Hundreds of mourners, still in shock over the sudden and devastating loss, filled the church’s pews to capacity. Family members, first responders and local leaders gathered, listening intently to Susan’s older sister, Jessica Giovanniello, deliver her remarks.

The sisters both volunteered for the city’s Emergency Medical Services. Jessica always looked up to her younger sister as a source of inspiration.

“It didn’t matter what I was telling her about my shift with EMS,” Jessica said. “We always came to each other with questions about school, EMS, life, to rant, or when her or I had to write paragraphs to people. I had a built-in best friend.”

The 19-year-old volunteer EMT died suddenly on April 3, of an unspecified medical emergency. Although the exact cause of her death is unknown, the Nassau County fire marshal determined her death was not suspicious.

Giovanniello became a member of the Glen Cove EMS Explorers when she was 16. She was dedicated to her community and being an Explorer gave her another outlet to continue to do so.

Also a beloved member of Glen Cove High School’s mixed chorale, she was a mezzo-soprano and the group’s secretary. An avid lover of theater, Giovanniello was also co-stage manager to Ed Norris, the high school’s chorale teacher, during the production of “Les Misérables.”

Norris said Giovanniello was everything and more that he could have asked for from a student leader. She would take the initiative handling tasks that others might not want to do. Norris said she never walked into any room without sharing her infectious smile.

“She was just one of those kids that stood out above the rest, and always did the right thing.” Norris said. “She led by example, she didn’t have to tell you what to do. You looked at her and you knew what the right thing to do was.”

District Superintendent Maria Rianna said that Giovanniello, who graduated in 2021, was a talented student. Like many others, Rianna was devastated to hear about the former student’s death.

“It is with great sorrow that we received the news,” Rianna said. “She had a great personality and was a young lady with a lot of potential.”

Mayor Pamela Panzenbeck was attending church when she received the call about Giovanniello’s emergency admittance at Glen Cove Hospital. Panzenbeck said she didn’t expect the situation to be as dire as it was when she went there to comfort Giovanniello’s family and local EMS members. Panzenbeck remained at the hospital for two hours leaving when Giovanniello was in stable condition.

Ralph Comitino, a close family friend, who also works for the Glen Cove Department of Public Works, remembers Giovanniello fondly. Comitino’s daughter and Giovanniello were classmates.

“I can’t bear what’s going on right now,” Comitino said. “It’s hard to digest, but it’s something that doesn’t go away.”

Glen Cove EMS Supervisor Christopher DeMetropolis knew Giovanniello since she became a volunteer with the city. He said that Giovanniello was hoping to advance her career in healthcare, saying that she wanted eventually to become a physician.

“She always wanted to learn, she always wanted me to show her new things and how we do things the right way,” DeMetropolis said. “And then she would adapt some of the things that I taught her to her best practices that she started to display.”

Glen Cove Assemblyman Charles Lavine said he was shocked when he heard of the death of the 19-year-old, whom he deemed an important member of the community.

“In the little city of Glen Cove, we are either related or interrelated,” Lavine said. “We stand together in moments of tragedy and grief. Sadly, this is just one of those moments.”